I should first say that I am not traveling alone for the first part of my journey. Two wonderful friends I have had the pleasure to meet and work with in my residency program are also completing an internal health elective in India during the same time period. Vivek and Ajay have both visited their families in India so are familiar with the travel. The only down side is that they are not going to be in the same region of India. The bright side is we were able to book our flights together from Charlotte to Munich to Mumbai. Once in Mumbai we all were spending the night with Vivek's Uncle's family then I was back to the airport to take two more connecting flights to finally arrive in Vijayawada.
The highlights of traveling with my brown buddies: First I was ready to be picked up at 1200 on Friday, they arrived at 1:00 pm. This was only the first of our struggles with time. I had the opportunity to meet Vivek's Mom and Dad who were driving their car down to Charlotte so we wouldn't have to leave a car at the airport for a month. They are lovely, genuine people who obviously care dearly about their son and there for any of his friends too. We made it to Charlotte and grabbed some dinner before our flight boarded. Then we proceeded to wander the concourse looking for headphone splitters and camera connects, standing in awe at the Best Buy vending machine. What we didn't account for was the boarding time of our flight. We arrived at the gate just as we heard Vivek's name announced overhead as the final boarding call. I have to say it wasn't bad not having to wait in line but man we cut it close! The three of use were in row 41 which is only three seat. I was between the boys and we had a great time. We watched the movie Captain Phillips simultaneously on the seat screens and talk about an intense movie, especially during happy hour. There was an intermission for dinner then after movie cordials. I guess it pays off to befriend the flight attendant. Before we knew it we were arriving in Munich to catch our next flight. It was a bit early to explore the beer garden (8 am their time and approx 3 am in NC time) but a morning stroll to stretch around the airport was enjoyed. Of course we felt right at home with Winston Lounges everywhere (aka smoking lounges). Then it was time to board our final leg together Munich to Mumbai. We were on time for this boarding call. Probably one of the highlights of the flight was the free WiFi !! We were able to download free talking, video, and text apps so we could stay connected on our travel with each other and with everyone back in the states. I have to say times are much different from my first study abroad experience in Mexico when the internet was still dial up and only available in the school computer lab.